Thinking Anglicans

The Episcopal Church and the ACNA

The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
February 4, 2010

The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA)

The following is one in a series of talking points prepared as a resource for The Episcopal Church.

Talking Points:

The Episcopal Church and the ACNA

The facts about The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).

  • The Episcopal Church is over 7400 congregations in 109 dioceses plus three regional areas in 16 countries with 2.2 million members.
  • It is important to note that membership in ACNA includes churches and denominations which have disassociated from The Episcopal Church both recently and over the last 130 years, as well as congregations which have never been part of The Episcopal Church. A definitive number is difficult to ascertain.
  • ACNA is led by an archbishop who is not a member of The Episcopal Church, The Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, or The Anglican Communion.
  • The Episcopal Church laity and clergy believe the Christian faith as stated in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. We call the Holy Scriptures the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible. We look to the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church in the understanding of the Scriptures. Our assurance as Christians is that nothing, not even death, shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • The Episcopal Church welcomes all who wish to serve God through Jesus Christ.
  • The Episcopal Church welcomes women in ordained ministry – deacons, priests and bishops. The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church is the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to lead The Episcopal Church as well as any of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. ACNA does not permit women to serve as bishops and, in some areas, bars women from all ordination.
  • The Episcopal Church is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, serving God together and working together to bring the Reign of God on earth. ACNA is not a member of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
  • It is important to note that those who have remained in The Episcopal Church in those places where some have left include conservatives as well as liberals, persons on the political right as well as on the political left, and everything in between.
  • It is an inaccurate and misleading image that pictures those who have broken away from The Episcopal Church as the persecuted faithful, when in reality those who have remained have felt deeply hurt, and now in some cases are exiled from their own church buildings by ACNA.

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PeterB
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I don’t know much about this…. it’s actually a very useful things to have some bullet points when so much seems to be done in abbreviations and long paragraphs. But some of these points seem a little bit disingenuous. From wikipediaing (I know, but where else can I easily get some info) it looks as though Robert Duncan (who is (I think) the arch-bishop referred to in point three) is not a member of the Episcopal church because he was thrown out. It seems odd to point out the organisations he’s not a member of, without the context of organisations… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

One can only hope that a copy of this statement about the relationship between TEC and ACNA could be placed in the folder of documents for every member of the C.of E. General Synod. The false testimony given by the mover of the relevant PMM would thus be effectively ruled ‘out of court’ – as it ought to be.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Robert Duncan was not “thrown out” of TEC. By the canons of the Episcopal Church–canons he swore to abide by, both when he was ordained as a priest and consecrated as a bishop–when he affiliated himself with the Province of the Southern Cone, he voluntarily removed himself from the Episcopal Church and its discipline and worship. TEC’s decision to say so publicly merely affirmed the facts on the ground.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Robert Duncan was not “thrown out” of TEC. By the canons of the Episcopal Church–canons he swore to abide by, both when he was ordained as a priest and consecrated as a bishop–when he affiliated himself with the Province of the Southern Cone, he voluntarily removed himself from the Episcopal Church and its discipline and worship. TEC’s decision to say so publicly merely affirmed the facts on the ground.

Elias
Guest
Elias

Question from England:
1. ‘2.2 million members’: how many actually attend a TEC congregation on a weekly basis?

(Ditto ACNA & C of E, for that matter: any idea where I can find out?

2. “The Episcopal Church laity and clergy believe the Christian faith as stated in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds”: again, for TEC, ACNA & the C of E:
how many bishops & clergy actually believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ nowadays? Didn’t someone think it was just ‘a conjuring trick with bones?

Your servant
Elias

Lionel Deimel
Guest

It is heartening to see TEC actively defending itself.

EmilyH
Guest
EmilyH

Although these talking points are somewhat useful, they also appear self-serving. Tobias Haller’s Post Card would seem more effective. The problem is the devil in in the details and most of us, even in the US are unwilling to look at the issue of what these folks actually did vs. what they claim they did and very vocally claim was done to them. It just takes too long. Ironically, it is the documents from the civil cases that reveal their strategies, their true assertions about themselves, their view of the CofE and the communion. The attorneys here are arguing about… Read more »

Jim Naughton
Guest

These talking points were distributed on a number of list-servs, yet the Anglican right has portrayed them as part of a secret dcoument sent to bishops only.

Tom Downs
Guest
Tom Downs

Dear PeterB, Robert Duncan has assumed the role of victim, when in fact he currently is where he himself chose to be. When a clergy person declares he is no longer a member of The Episcopal Church, it triggers a number of our canon laws. It begins a process that lasts for months in which the facts are discovered and the person in question is given time to reconsider. Actually, Duncan had been preparing for years to leave The Episcopal Church. He was trying to set it up so that he and his fellows could take the building and silver… Read more »

JPM
Guest
JPM

Elias, it was actually a Church of England bishop, David Jenkins, who coined the phrase “conjuring trick with bones.”

PeterB
Guest

Tom and Pat, I have no intention to go over old issues but I am ignorant of the details. I said ‘thrown out’ because the wikipedia article says he was deposed, which seems to me to mean pretty much the same as thrown out. I can understand that organisations might throw people out because they’ve ‘left’ and cause and effect sometimes go in reverse order, but I’m trying to simplify these complicated issues. As far as I can see it still seems as though the following has happened. 1) the branch of Anglicanism in the USA has undergone a doctrinal… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“These talking points were distributed on a number of list-servs, yet the Anglican right has portrayed them as part of a secret dcoument sent to bishops only.”

They seem to expect TEC to behave with the same duplicity with which they operate. They are the folk of secret documents and underjanded conspiracies. I guess honesty and tranparency are invisible to them. Pathetic.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Elias,
no, David Jenkins said the resurrection was “not just a conjuring trick with bones”.

EmilyH
Guest
EmilyH

For purists, the actual terms used in the litigation were “branches” of the communion, but for the legal argument to work, they needed to be mutually exclusive and CANA had no problem jettisoning Canterbury for Nigeria Judge Bellow’s opinion leaves no doubt that he bought this argument in helping to decide in CANA’s favor.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Elias, I don’t have the latest figures at my fingertips, but a copy of the 2008 “Red Book” is at hand, and it lists the average Sunday attendance for the previous year at just over 800,000. This comes out to be around a third of the total membership — from my experience, that is about right at the parish level. I don’t know about the C of E, especially with its large number of “titular” members. ACNA is a complete unknown to me. Americans in general tend to be churchgoers, though by no means so much as even 20 years… Read more »

Ren Aguila
Guest
Ren Aguila

Elias: I hate to say this, but it is a serious concern that much of what people think is the Episcopal Church’s theology would be represented by the likes of Jack Spong. To this day, his brethren have not made any effort to collectively criticize some (if not all) of Spong’s theological positions in their capacity as bishops of the Church (especially, I must note, his controversial 12 Theses). On the contrary, by letting them stand, it gives the impression that they not only tolerate the kind of views that Spong represents, but also hold them as well. I hope… Read more »

Rev Ivan Ackeroff
Guest

No Elias. Bishop David Jenkins said the Resurrection was “MUCH MORE than a conjuring trick with bones”

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

Bishop Duncan and ACNA were not thrown out. They walked out, and took the furniture with them. “You shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed are enough. All of Christendom failed disastrously over the last 2000 years just to keep the above simple statement of faith from the Gospel. Perhaps we should work on that before we start adding any more items to the admission exams for… Read more »

Canon Andrew Godsall
Guest
Canon Andrew Godsall

“how many bishops & clergy actually believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ nowadays? Didn’t someone think it was just ‘a conjuring trick with bones?” Elias I think you ought to check up on that oft misreported quote from a former Bishop of Durham, who in fact said quite the opposite of what you report him to say. If you actually know clergy who do not believe in the resurrection, (and i somehow doubt you do) then the proper thing would be to ask their bishop to have a pastoral conversation with them, rather than casting vast unhelpful inaccurate generalisations… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Elias: Here are the relevant canons that define “membership” in the Episcopal Church: According to the Constitution and Canons, Title I, Canon 17, Section 2(a) on p. 50: All members of this Church who have received Holy Communion in this Church at least three times during the preceding year are to be considered communicants of this Church. Title I, Canon 17, Section 3 on p. 54 goes on to say: All communicants of this Church who for the previous year have been faithful in corporate worship, unless for good cause prevented, and have been faithful in working, praying, and giving… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Elias: Here are the relevant canons that define “membership” in the Episcopal Church: According to the Constitution and Canons, Title I, Canon 17, Section 2(a) on p. 50: All members of this Church who have received Holy Communion in this Church at least three times during the preceding year are to be considered communicants of this Church. Title I, Canon 17, Section 3 on p. 54 goes on to say: All communicants of this Church who for the previous year have been faithful in corporate worship, unless for good cause prevented, and have been faithful in working, praying, and giving… Read more »

Doxy
Guest

Elias–if you want another version of the Inquisition, please don’t expect TEC to conduct it for you.

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

David Jenkins, when Bishop of Durham said that the resurrection was NOT a conjuring trick with bones.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

Elias, I presume you know that the phrase “conjuring trick with bones” was never used by an Anglican to describe the Resurrection. It was quite justly used as a characterization of the impoverished fundamentalist approach to the Resurrection narratives. I Corinthians 15 is a good starting-point for a more integrated vision.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

Even I, a non-Anglican, know that what Bp Jenkins actually said was that the Resurrection is something much more than a conjuring-trick with bones. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/1999/sep/04/books.guardianreview10

JCF
Guest
JCF

“On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures”

THAT is what the (Nicene) Creed says, Elias. THAT is what Episcopalians believe. Going beyond that to personal interpretations, is a matter of individual preference. No one’s interpretation is binding on anyone else! [Or else, That Way -> to form your own sect…]

Scott Gunn
Guest

Elias,

You can find 2008 figures for the C of E and for TEC online.

http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/statistics/2008provisionalattendance.pdf

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/TEC_Membership_and_Attendance_Totals_by_Province_2008.pdf

In summary, C of E claims an Average Sunday Attendance of 960,000. TEC claims an Average Sunday attendance of 747,000.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Elias,
You asked: “Didn’t someone think it was just ‘a conjuring trick with bones?”

I believe he was British and said the opposite “Not just a conjuring trick with bones”…

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest

Thank you Elias. I think a basic search will tell you that AP (perhaps deliberately) misquoted the then Bishop of Durham. Not that this has made a huge difference to the mythology.

As someone pointed out at the time (in response to a ‘harrumphing’ letter by Maurice Wood, quondam bishop of Norwich and prin. of Oak Hill playgroup), what +Dunelm was saying was what the theological colleges should have been teaching all along….

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Very good article in today’s New York Times, of course those who should see it won’t and if they did it wouldn’t matter…

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/08/opinion/08lax.html

Tobias Haller
Guest

Pat O’Neill, a slight correction. The canons define 1) “member” as one whose baptism is recorded in the parish (I.17.1.a) 2) “communicants” are “members” who have rec’d communion at least three times / year. (I.17.2.a) 3) “communicants in good standing” are those “communicants” who have also done as you cite, being faithful in attendance, working, praying, giving, etc. (I.17.3) In addition to all of this canonical stuff, the church asks (on the parochial report) to list “active” baptized members — which would include communicants and communicants in good standing. This gives the 2 million or thereabouts figure; which omits many… Read more »

Ren Aguila
Guest
Ren Aguila

Ah yes, the quote from the Bishop of Durham. I stand mistaken, but as an earlier commenter posted, it makes no difference to the mythology. Worse things have been said about the resurrection.

The point is, Elias, we ought to operate on the (very charitable) presumption that people who call themselves Christian do believe in what the Creeds say, but more importantly that they put their trust ultimately in God. If that confidence in God is lacking, that is the first step toward heresy.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“TEC does not need Canterbury’s approval to exist. It can exist quite well without it. Its only real reason for the relationship is true bonds of affection. – “By contrast, ACNA now needs the CofE, just as it needed Nigeria and Uganda and Rwanda and Kenya to provide it “cover” while it implemented its strategy, it now needs the CofE to validate it and establish its credibility. One wonders if the CofE and Canterbury is truly held with bonds of affection or, I assert, like disposable Nigeria, simply a means to an end.” – EmilyH, on Monday – I personally… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

PeterB:

Duncan announced he was joining the Province of the Southern Cone; by so doing, he was effectively abandoning the worship and discipline of the Episcopal Church. The Church confirmed that by deposing him.

Tobias:

Thanks for the clarification; however, the material I quoted comes straight from TEC’s webpage, as the answer to the FAQ “what constitutes being a member of the Episcopal Church?” See this link:

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/87702_ENG_HTM.htm

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

PeterB:

Duncan announced he was joining the Province of the Southern Cone; by so doing, he was effectively abandoning the worship and discipline of the Episcopal Church. The Church confirmed that by deposing him.

Tobias:

Thanks for the clarification; however, the material I quoted comes straight from TEC’s webpage, as the answer to the FAQ “what constitutes being a member of the Episcopal Church?” See this link:

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/87702_ENG_HTM.htm

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Ren:

Or does it simply mean that the bishops of the Episcopal Church are not going to treat all theological inquiry and controversy the way the Vatican does?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Ren:

Or does it simply mean that the bishops of the Episcopal Church are not going to treat all theological inquiry and controversy the way the Vatican does?

Tom Downs
Guest
Tom Downs

PeterB, 1) the branch of Anglicanism in the USA has undergone a doctrinal shift over the last x number of years. Actually, not so much. The Creeds are still the Creeds. We did add the Creed of Athanasius in the last revision of the Book of Common Prayer. Biblical scholarship has kept pace. The Church was adjusting to Modernism before I was born and I’m just now trying to adjust to Post Modernism. During the 60’s and 70’s we saw Pentecostalism and fundamentalism creep into some parts of our Church. Along the way we’ve had to adjust to the common… Read more »

peterpi
Guest
peterpi

“This made as much sense as saying that […] because all the apostles were Jews, only Jews could be ordained.” — Eric Lax Anyone who uses my favorite argument is OK by me, LOL choirboyfromhell, thank you. That’s a wonderful article. And Jesus’ saying about the two great commandments parallels a story told of Rabbi Hillel. Roman soldiers were fond of harassing Jews. A soldier stopped Rabbi Hillel, deciding to have some fun with the old man, and demanded he recite all the fundamental tenets of Judaism while standing on one foot. The wise rabbi stood on one foot, recited… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“I hate to say this, but it is a serious concern that much of what people think is the Episcopal Church’s theology would be represented by the likes of Jack Spong. To this day, his brethren have not made any effort to collectively criticize some (if not all) of Spong’s theological positions in their capacity as bishops of the Church (especially, I must note, his controversial 12 Theses). On the contrary, by letting them stand, it gives the impression that they not only tolerate the kind of views that Spong represents, but also hold them as well.” How to respond?… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“2) “communicants” are “members” who have rec’d communion at least three times / year. (I.17.2.a)”
This is interesting. In Sweden, where Pietist “pastors” once refused Parish members the “Supper” (which, incidentally under the State church was the key to exams, marriage, and so on), there used to be places where the Holy Eucharist was served up only once every three years, so I’m told. The average still being once a month, in areas where State sponsored Calvinism once was powerful.

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

Oh my, here comes the old Jack Spong canard again: Blah Blah Blah Spong Blah Blah Spong, etc. I always find it remarkable that one single retired bishop could play such a large role in the dark Manichean world of the right wing imagination. It is amazing to ponder the imagined spectacle of thousands of quarrelsome Americans who’ve probably never read a single book or essay by Spong (or who have probably never even heard of him) marching in lockstep behind him like Red Guards behind Mao, and leading recalcitrant conservatives in dunce caps off to re-education camps. Bishop Spong,… Read more »

PeterB
Guest

Tom Downs, When I talk about a doctrinal shift I’m talking about teaching that something is sin (and thus requiring repentance) at one stage in history and then teaching that the same thing is not sin. Maybe I’m using the wrong terminology, if I am I apologise for confusing things. I assume that, to use the obvious example, sexual activity outside of what people would traditionally describe as marriage (hetrosexual and monogamous) has, in the past, been considered a sin, to which the suitable response is confession (to God) and repentance. Since such things are now being blessed, there must… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

It’s the HOKEY POKEY here in the States Fr. Smith! Funny how things get turned around in slight ways…just like some people’s interpretation of Scripture….

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

“These people dress their unhappiness in accusations of doctrinal change, but I think it has more to do with common cussedness and simple unwillingness to share. It’s important to remember that all of these represent just a tiny portion of our losses since the highs of the 50’s. Like the rest of the churches in North America the vast majority of our losses came when people no longer felt church was a necessary part of their lives. I understand it is much the same in the Church of England.”-Tom Downs Absolutely bang on, and the more we pander to the… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Uh Goran, there are still Episcopal (USA) Churches that say communion every other week…I sing in one of them!

Ren Aguila
Guest
Ren Aguila

Cynthia and Pat: Let me make myself clear: part of the role of bishops is to set boundaries. If that means having to say that a particular person’s opinion, however pious, is not what the Church holds, then they can say that. And they should. There is a sense in which bishops have to be adventurous, but at the same time when it comes to what the Creeds say, for instance, they have to say that this is not how we are to understand them. Let me clarify then that what I do not mean is the kind of Inquisition… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Thanks, Pat. Sad to see the folks in charge don’t know the canons better! When I worked in the Communication office at ‘815’ almost decades ago now, I wrote up a handy answer to this question, which was printed in the [then] _Episcopalian_ (now _Episcopal Life_). This was before the WWW.

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

And here’s another good hyperlink, a service where reflection in the best Anglican tradition pondered ‘thought’, along with listening to The Best Choir in the World.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00qg0qw/Sunday_Worship_Wisdom_From_Above/

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“When I talk about a doctrinal shift I’m talking about teaching that something is sin (and thus requiring repentance) at one stage in history and then teaching that the same thing is not sin.”

Oh, you mean, like, say, usury? Or divorce?